Storm plugs roadways, clogs intersections

Drifts at the intersection on Moody Co. 228th St. formed when the winds whipped up loose snow and blocked rural traffic on Sunday.

Highway snow ridges built to curb drifting

Monday became the “big dig” in Moody County.
Crews had to unpack the drifts and snow-covered roads that shut down traffic in several areas over the weekend, left motorists stranded and resulted in accidents.
Snow drifts on county and state highways reportedly were three to four-foot high, with some as tall as 10 feet, and authorities warned people Sunday that if they went in the ditch, help may not get to them for a while.
The Moody County Sheriff’s Department took calls for 15 motorist assists and three accidents Sunday and into Monday morning. That compares to 30 motorist assists and 10 accidents for the entire week earlier, said Sheriff Troy Wellman. At least one van rolled on Interstate 29.
Snowfall was minimal on Sunday, but strong winds blew the record amount of snow already on the ground around creating blizzard conditions, slick spots and plugged roads.
In the Trent area, all roads in and out of town were impassable, according to residents in the area. The Trent exchange on Interstate 29 also was blocked and considered closed.
At the Colman exit, Prairie Junction was drifted in.
On 474th Avenue between Highway 34 and 240th Street, a driver went in the ditch and through a fence, in which cows escaped. The farmer was able to get the cows back in and put up panels to keep them in, Wellman said.
“We couldn’t get to the vehicle in the ditch (until Sunday night),” he said.
“When people would go in the ditch we were picking them up, taking them someplace warm and picking up their cars later,” he said.
It can get frustrating when people don’t listen to warnings to stay home in storms and head out to events, to get groceries or just to get out of the house, he said. They need to think beyond themselves, he said.
“It’s not just your life you’re putting in danger, it’s the first responders, the fire department, the tow truck, the ambulance, law enforcement, DOT,” Wellman said.
County highway crews started cleaning up roads closer to evening on Sunday when winds died down and continued clearing them on Monday.
For once, after more than a week of missed days this year, Flandreau students didn’t chalk up another snow day. They already had a scheduled day off Monday so teachers could gather for training.

Snow ridges
Last week, state transportation workers were building snow ridges to cut down on additional blowing snow along SD Highway 34 in Moody County.
Crews piled up snow in fields along the road to give future storms a place to dump snow before making it onto the highway. Dozens of snow ridges were being built in anticipation of predicted storms.
The berms of snow piled higher than vehicles won’t completely stop a storm from dumping some snow on the highway, said Steve Schneider, highway maintenance supervisor with the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
“It kind of slows it down,” he said. “We’re trying to stop it out in the field.”
Once a storm passes through, workers will have to go back and pile the new snow back into the fields again. Farmers along the highway have given the state permission to put the snow on their land.
The snow ridges are being built in areas on Highway 34 from the Minnesota border to near the ethanol plant west of Colman. “We’re not doing it in every field, just the problem areas,” Schneider said. “You’ll see several.”
The piles are both a safety enhancement to help motorists use the route and a way to cut down on cleanup of the highways after a storm, he said. This winter’s storms have cut into the state’s snow removal budget, and work will continue to be needed to maintain the highways.
In Moody County, the state plows highways 32, 34 and 13 and Interstate 29 from Dell Rapids to the Ward exit.
The state used the snow ridges about three years ago when they were needed but haven’t used them in the last couple of years, he said.
“It’ll be an ongoing thing the rest of the winter,” he said.
snow on the highway, said Steve Schneider, highway maintenance supervisor with the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
“It kind of slows it down,” he said. “We’re trying to stop it out in the field.”
Once a storm passes through, workers will have to go back and pile the new snow back into the fields again. Farmers along the highway have given the state permission to put the snow on their land.
The snow ridges are being built in areas on Highway 34 from the Minnesota border to near the ethanol plant west of Colman. “We’re not doing it in every field, just the problem areas,” Schneider said. “You’ll see several.”
The piles are both a safety enhancement to help motorists use the route and a way to cut down on cleanup of the highways after a storm, he said. This winter’s storms have cut into the state’s snow removal budget, and work will continue to be needed to maintain the highways.
In Moody County, the state plows highways 32, 34 and 13 and Interstate 29 from Dell Rapids to the Ward exit.
The state used the snow ridges about three years ago when they were needed but haven’t used them in the last couple of years, he said.
“It’ll be an ongoing thing the rest of the winter,” he said.


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